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NYC’s Excellence in Design awards showcases projects in all five boroughs

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A garden, housing, and a beachfront park are among this year’s winners

Bay Breeze Park will turn 2 acres of undeveloped land on the Jamaica Bay shore into a beach destination.
Courtesy of the City of New York

Ten projects have been honored by the city for thoughtful designs that create meaningful and welcoming civic spaces and resilient infrastructure.

As part of the city’s 37th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design, the Public Design Commission has selected eight winners—and gave special recognition to The Bluebelt Program and The Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markersfor concepts that work to create a better city.

“This year’s awardees reflect the very best of design in public works, housing, and libraries, parks, and public art,” said deputy mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. “Each project seeks to elevate the ways we can make public spaces more resilient, fair, and accessible.”

This year, the commission also celebrated women who have shaped the public realm in New York City with a new book, “Women-Designed NYC.” The tome highlights award-winning projects over the last ten years that were led by women architects, engineers, designers, and artists.

The Design in Excellence winners this year include a barren lot transformed into a garden and greenhouse for a men’s homeless shelter, an affordable housing development adapted from a juvenile detention center, and a beach-front park set to turn two acres of undeveloped land into a summer destination. Recipients were judged by the Public Design Commission’s 11-member panel and only include developments proposed on city-owned properties

Here’s this year’s winners.

The Peninsula Mixed-use Development

Courtesy of the City of New York

This Hunts Point development is set to transform the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center with 740 below-market-rate apartments and various amenities, including creative production and rehearsal spaces, a daycare, a health and wellness center, and a supermarket. WXY architecture + urban design, Body Lawson Associates Architects & Planners, and Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect designed the project for the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

Third Street Men’s Shelter Garden and Greenhouse

The Department of Homeless Services transformed an underutilized East Village lot into a garden and greenhouse for residents at the Third Street Men’s Shelter. The spaces allows for horticultural therapy, culinary training, and wellness programs along with a communal open space for shelter residents. The Grain Collective, Hester Street, and Project Renewal designed the green spaces.

Manhattan Pet Adoption Center

Courtesy of the City of New York

In East Harlem, a one-story garage will be adapted into the new Manhattan Pet Adoption Center to create a colorful, sunlit space for dogs, cats, and rabbits awaiting adoption. The project is a partnership between the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene with Studio Joseph.

Queens Boulevard Reconstruction

Courtesy of the City of New York

As part of the Vision Zero initiative, the Department of Transportation and the the Department of Design and Construction aim to transform Queens Boulevard into a grand thoroughfare. The design seeks to calm traffic and provide safer passages for pedestrians and cyclists with raised bike paths and pedestrian walkways, and tree-filled medians with lush greenery. AECOM and NV5 are behind the vision.

Gowanus Combined Sewer Overflow Facility and Open Space

Courtesy of the City of New York

This proposed 8 million gallon underground tank and headhouse will intercept and store combined sewage overflow during heavy rains. The terracotta façade of the headhouse facility blends in with surrounding red brick buildings while establishing a contemporary presence. The 1.6-acre open space at the site offers passive recreational space and a waterfront esplanade inspired by the canal’s industrial history. The project was designed by Selldorf Architects and DLANDstudio, and is a partnership between the Department of Environmental Protection and NYC Parks.

Bay Breeze Park

Courtesy of the City of New York

This new park on the Jamaica Bay shore in Far Rockaway will transform a two-acre undeveloped stretch of beach into a summer getaway. The design utilizes existing features at the site, including a circular foundation wall—a relic from the site’s industrial past—repurposed as seating. Built for resiliency, the kayak storage building is enclosed with a “porous aluminum grille façade” that allows water to flow through the structure in the event of flooding, according to the city. Quennell Rothschild & Partners and Sage and Coombe Architects are behind the vision for the Parks Department project.

Staten Island 1 & 3 Districts Garage

Courtesy of the City of New York

Staten Island’s new Sanitation Garage facility in Fresh Kills will serve two sanitation districts and provide a public recycling center. The garage maintains a low profile within the landscape and includes a sprawling array of rooftop photovoltaic panels to contribute to the city’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. TEN Arquitectos and Sasaki have designed the space for the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Sanitation.

Feynman Code by Pablo Helguera

For Far Rockaway’s new library, artist Pablo Helguera created a visual code using the diagrams of Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist and Far Rockaway resident, Richard Feynman. Using this code, quotes will be installed in the library for visitors to discover and decode, celebrating Feynman’s legacy and the value of intellectual curiosity that is embodied in the mission of public libraries. Pablo Helguera and Snøhetta collaborated on the project for Queens Public Library, the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program, and the Department of Design and Construction.